The Phoenix Suns came away with a crucial Game 5 victory last night over the Pelicans, 112-97.
Right from tip-off, Suns’ wing Mikal Bridges imposed himself on both ends of the court. After matching his career-high for blocks with 3 in just the first half, he came out in the second and scored 24 points en route to a playoff career-high 31 points. He finished the game with 5 rebounds and a career-high 4 blocks as well in just under 47 minutes played, another playoff career-high.
Suns’ center Deandre Ayton spoke after the game about how critical Bridges is to the team’s success.
“That’s what [Mikal] do, that’s our Iron Man,” Ayton said.
“The man takes care of his body and he approaches the game the same way every day, he doesn’t change [anything]. He’s a true student of the game and it’s contagious because we know the type of task he has every game, and he knows it, and we need him through every possession every game.”
Suns’ All-Star Chris Paul attested as well to Bridges’ stamina and just how valuable his constant presence has been.
“It’s very unique. I haven’t played a game in a Suns uniform without [Mikal],” Paul pointed out. “So I don’t know what it’s like to play without him... That’s why to us he’s our Defensive Player of the Year.”
“He plays every single night. It’s so crazy in this league, everybody talks about when guys miss games and [sit] out, they’re not playing in this nationally televised game, but how do you credit a guy who straps them up every night? You don’t, you don’t. And he goes out there and plays every night, and that’s what we expect from [him].”
Paul’s comments barely scratch the surface of Bridges durability. As discussed earlier this month, the 25-year-old has technically never missed a game of basketball. Dating back to his days at Villanova, Bridges has now played in 452 consecutive games.
And he can hardly wait for his 453rd.
“I’m amped,” Bridges said of Game 6. “I’m ready to play tomorrow. I’m teed up, man. I’m energized, [and] my teammates keep me going. You got me itching my knee right now because I’m talking about it. I need to calm down, I need to breathe, but I’m just ready, man.
“I love being out there, I love playing with my teammates, man. They’re my best friends so it makes it way easier.”
Unfortunately for Bridges, the Suns must wait until Thursday to face the Pelicans again for Game 6 and will look to close out this first-round series on road.